Each week, the leaders-in-training (LITs) come together as a community to welcome Shabbat. As part of our Shabbaton programming, we work on a special philanthropy program called the Gesher Philanthropy Initiative, or GPI. GPI is an eight-week program in which the LITs design their own Teen Philanthropy Fund to grant dollars to a worthwhile cause of their choosing.
LITs learn to identify funding priorities and the Jewish values attached to them, design and write their own mission statement based on those priorities and values, read through and analyze grant proposals, interview grant finalists, and select a local Jewish organization to receive a $3000 grant.
So far this summer, the LITs have explored what philanthropy is, and examined their pre-existing relationship with it. They learned about Rambam’s Ladder of Tzedakah and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This was done to help LITs think about the ways we can give Tzedakah and what needs they may want to fund. Last week, LITs participated in a lively game of “Jewish Values for Sale.” Our LITs split into small groups and decided on the values they felt most passionate about. Each value was assigned a monetary value and LITs could only spend their budget; this way they were forced to create a hierarchy of values. We then used these valuesto begin to determine what values we wish to uphold in our philanthropic giving. This week, we completed our GPI mission statement, and learned about building consensus. This will help our LITs come to final decisions about what to fund, as well as to help them develop life skills for working with people and ideas that they may disagree with.
We, the leaders of the LIT program, are very thankful to the Weiss Family and the Jewish Community Foundation, Inc. for helping to provide this opportunity for our emerging teen leaders to learn about philanthropy and needs in our community.
Barrie, Rabbi Nathan, and Ethan